Medellin: A Photo / Video Album

The night view of Medellin from the veranda of Marmoleo Restaurante, located on the highest peak of the city. We had a remarkably mediocre meal there two nights ago.

When I was in high school, my mother found a roll of film in a shoe box she hadn’t developed. When the photos were returned, they were of my first grade field trip to the zoo. Among the photos was Ford, a childhood friend, taking a drink from a lion-shaped water fountain. And one of Jim, standing near the monkey cages.

My parents weren’t Photography People. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not much of a photographer, either. I’ve discovered I can take photos… or have experiences I’ll remember. I really do understand they shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

At the end of the day — when I’m back at the apartment — I look at my photos and videos and think: that doesn’t capture what it was like at all.

Regardless, I hope the following will give you a sense of my trip so far:

Iguanas are common in Medellin. Here’s one wandering aimlessly (uncaged) at the Botanical Gardens.

The iguana was nearly six feet long and right there. As I was taking the video, I told Bill if that thing jumped on me he could forego calling the Colombian version of 9-1-1 and start making funeral arrangements.

Here are rain clouds forming while I was at the Museo de Art Moderno five days ago. I love the bruise-colored skies above Medellin:


Thunder rattled the building. I ran out onto the balcony to take photos in the rain, but was yelled at by a security guard. I slipped back under the overhang. Here’s the rainy photo:


The yellow stripes are the museum lights behind me.

Day before yesterday — while on the balcony during the late morning — I saw a group of people putting up a huge and brightly-colored tarp. But in fact they were inflating a hot-air balloon. It lacked a basket for carrying passengers. I suspect it’s against the law to launch such a thing in a residential neighborhood.

Here’s the video:

I don’t know if it’s visible but I could see the fire that created the lift as the balloon drifted through the air. Perhaps a half hour after I took the video, I remembered to look up from my laptop —  it was nowhere to be found. I don’t know if it landed somewhere, or exploded.

Here’s a photo of desert plants in the Botanical Gardens — notice how many people have carved their names or initials into the hard flat leaves.



Bill noticed the plant below and pointed out the variety of flower colors — all blooming on branches connected to a single stem:


Orchids grow everywhere in Colombia. Here’s one with multiple pink buds on a huge 12″ long stem. You can see one has opened to show an unexpected orange-yellow mouth.


At the Medellin Aquarium they have a variety of fish that are indigenous to South America. These are piranha:


In February, Marty and I are taking a four-day trip into the Amazonian rain forest in Ecuador. From the marketing materials, I’m copying in (word for word) what’s planned for the afternoon of Day Two:

“In the afternoon, we will go piranha fishing, and then later everyone is invited to go swimming.”

Ha! After fishing for them… we can swim with them. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

The sting rays are mottled the color of the soil where they rest during the day. The largest ones were about 14″ across — smaller than the ones we often see in U.S. aquariums:

Bill and I left the pedestrian plaza and walked into some of the older neighborhoods where the houses are in poor repair.


We were going to see the home-turned-museum of one of Colombia’s contemporary artists, Pedro Nel Gomez. He was very prolific and perhaps best known for being a muralist. His commissions for public building murals came to an astounding 24,000 square feet. I loved his home, pictured below:


Regarding the profusion of yellow cabs I wrote about HERE. Have you ever seen so many taxis on a single street?

Finally, here’s a video I took from the window of our cab as we left Botero Plaza yesterday. It gives you a sense of the profusion of people and the brightly-colored shops.

Medellin has been an incredible experience. (And it’s not over — I still have ten days.) It’s impossible to pass along the city’s strange richness. New construction is going on everywhere… and yet in the old parts of town, it feels like you’ve gone back in time.

Remember Esso gas stations? Esso is S.O. — Standard Oil. The Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that Rockefeller’s company was a monopoly and had to be broken up. I didn’t know that some still existed.


5 thoughts on “Medellin: A Photo / Video Album

  1. Really enjoying your blogs and photos, Bart. Such a rich experience. It’s really wonderful that you are able to do this and I will be very interested to hear about the Amazon experience! You are such a good writer and these traveling adventures are so descriptive.
    Just finished the Netflix series, Narcos, set in Columbia and around Medellin. Assume most of the violence has settled down/undercontrol? The politics were really interesting.


    1. Hi Beth,

      So good to hear from you. I look forward to watching Narcos.

      And yes, the city has changed significantly for the better. It was named “Most Innovative City In the World” in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal… a fact I’ve come across quite often. Colombians are proud of the advances Medellin has made.


  2. Wow. Such rich and colorful experiences. Too bad I can’t understand the language, although I was able to guess the numbers. Possibly a telephone? Or fare? Or a street address?
    Keep up the writing Bart. Enjoying immensely. CW


    1. Hi Cherin,

      The driver was on his cell phone as he flew through the downtown streets. We imagined he was giving someone a phone number. Glad you’re enjoying the posts.
      Tell Richard hello!


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